The Department of Labor and Employment (“DOLE”) released Labor Advisory No. 04 series of 2020 entitled Guidelines on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Prevention and Control at the Workplace, which outlines specific measures that employers must undertake to prevent and control the possible spread of the 2019-nCoV.
The key features of Labor Advisory No. 04 are as follows:
Labor Advisory No. 04 is applicable to all employers and workers in the private sector.
II. Workplace Health
Employers are directed to do the following:
Provide information to their employees regarding the manner of transmission of the 2019-nCoV and how it may be treated.
Ensure that the workplace is properly cleaned, and that water, soap, and sanitizer in all washrooms and toilets are available.
Ensure that the food served in the cafeterias and canteens within the workplace is properly prepared, handled and cooked.
Monitor the health of their employees, particularly, those who exhibit symptoms of the 2019-nCoV, and those have recently traveled to countries which are affected by the 2019-nCoV.
Meanwhile, in workplaces where workers are evidently at risk of infection, such as in health-care services, employers must take immediate protective measures, such as the adoption of screening programs in accordance with the Guidelines issued by the Department of Health (“DOH”). The employees in such workplaces must take extra precautionary measures which include strict hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment such as face masks, gowns, and gloves.
In the event that an employee is already suspected to have the 2019-nCoV, the employer should ensure that the employee is isolated to prevent the risk of spreading the infection within the workplace. The employee concerned must also be referred to the nearest local health center or hospital, and the same should be reported immediately to the DOH.
III. Leave of Absence/Entitlements
Leave of Absence
For employees who are requested to stay at home, or who are served quarantine orders for reasons related to the 2019-nCoV, their leaves of absence may be credited to their annual sick/vacation leave credits, if any. As regards employees who would be required to take a leave of absence to care for their children or parents afflicted or suspected of having the 2019-nCoV, employers are encouraged to adopt a flexible arrangement in granting time-off, which may include the crediting of leave credits.
Employees who are afflicted or suspected of having the 2019-nCoV may avail of PhilHealth hospital benefits, sickness benefits under the Social Security System, and employees’ compensation benefits under P.D. No. 626.